Campus / Greek Life / News / Special Topics / May 23, 2013

FIJI focuses on culture shift

After two years of social probation, Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) President junior Jim John has worked to change both the internal culture and external perception of the fraternity to build a foundation for years to come.

Following years during which multiple alcohol violations placed the fate of the fraternity in jeopardy, John recognized that the mindset of the fraternity had to shift.

The Phi Gamma Delta house, located on Tompkins and Cedar Street, has recently had its social probation lifted. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

The Phi Gamma Delta house, located on Tompkins and Cedar Street, has recently had its social probation lifted. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

“We had to fix that mentality in our house that anything kind of goes. We have to follow rules, we have to follow the rules of the school, we have to follow the rules of our international body,” John said.

The fact that FIJI is a dry house played a large role in necessitating the change.

“The big part of it is the fact that we are a dry house, but the perception of our house around campus is that no one knows that we’re really a dry house, which is the issue that we’re trying to fix,” John said. “It was that and the culture of the house, that we were letting things like that slide … some internal stuff like apathy.”

The two-year social probation has been the longest in the fraternity’s history. John cited the length of the probation as a large factor in shifting FIJI’s focus from merely satisfying the desires of the college, to creating a stable internal environment that could be sustained for years to come.

“Two years was a very long time, so it started off with a lot of talk like ‘what’s going on’ and ‘what are we doing wrong’ and all of those kinds of things, people were getting annoyed and frustrated,” John said. “We were trying to do things just to please the administration. Our mentality was ‘Let’s do the bare minimum that we have to do to get over it’ … It was a completely different culture, so the culture had to change.”

Longevity is now the focus. John said that by working with the new administration, a reorganization of the chapter has occurred, including the creation of a new risk management plan and house policies.

“We had a major overhaul of how we run chapter, how the committees are organized and things like that, just to try to make it more effective … run more efficiently, and communication can be a little bit better,” John said.

The probation has been beneficial for the internal dynamics of the brotherhood, John said.

“The benefit of it was that when we’re not having parties and we don’t have any of those things to look forward to, it’s just us and how we handle things and how we can have fun without doing those kinds of things. It really got us closer together as a brotherhood … then we had to look more into ourselves about what’s going on with us and how we can contribute more,” he said.

The chapter held an alcohol awareness seminar this term, and intends to continue to hold educational events for the student body.

John said that FIJI, no longer on social probation, does not intend to hold any social events during the closing weeks of the term as they continue to solidify their new rules and policies.

However, he is confident in the ability for the fraternity to move forward in a new light, ditching its reactionary past in lieu of a proactive presence that can be sustained for years to come.

“The house grew closer together. Adversity builds character,” John said.

Tags:  alcohol violation dry house fiji fraternity greek life jim john party social event social probation

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Julian Boireau
Julian Boireau is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in French. This is his fourth year working for TKS, having served as co-news editor during his sophomore and junior years. He has been involved in journalism for seven years, serving as opinions editor of the newspaper and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. In September 2012, Julian received press credentials to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where he reported on remarks by President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the recipient of back-to-back first place awards from the Illinois College Press Association for front page layout.

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